3 months with the GF1

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Well, it’s been about three months with this Lumix GF1, and I figured I’d take a moment
and spill some thoughts on this micro four thirds camera.

In brief: I really like it and recommend it emphatically.

With the release of the newer GF2 that has touchscreen focus control there’s been some grumbling
that this old model is superior (and prices are going up for the GF1, not down). I can’t speak
to the successor, but touchscreen focus sounds nice in theory. Some dials have gone away, but
they weren’t dials I would miss terribly. Excellent look at the differences on DP Review.

A FEW THOUGHTS:

  • I operate mostly in Program [P] mode and use the rear dial to adjust exposure.
  • Still suffer a few blurry shots and haven’t figured out quick settings to minimize that.
    This only really occurs with subjects in motion (or me in motion in a car).
    For the most part, shots are crisp and free of grain.
  • Been using the 20mm f/1.7 Pancake Lens exclusively.
  • It has the same drawbacks of fixed lenses (no zoom, tight crop), but the low light
    performance and slim profile make up for any drawbacks.
  • Focusing on things other than faces takes a bit of fiddling. I tend to set a spot with
    the cursor controls in lieu of manual focus with the ring on the lens.
  • I quite like using the screen to compose shots (with guidelines turned on).
    Going back to the big Canon 5D’s viewfinder feels awkward anymore.
  • Build quality and battery performance are excellent.
  • I can’t speak of the built-in flash with any authority. I never use it.
  • Sometimes bump the switch from single shot to timer. Usually never an issue.
  • Movie mode is nice, but haven’t made much use of it.

WISHLIST:

  • An articulating screen. It could make the device more flimsy or bulky, but it’d be swell.
  • GPS/Geotagging. A battery hog perhaps, but would be nice to recall a place automagically.
    I tried an Eye-fi memory card, but the software bridge displeased me.
  • Connectivity other than a cord. Again, a memory card could  ease this niggle, but in general?
    I’m ready to be able to email or post photos on the spot.
  • Dials for aperture, ISO and shutter speed. This upcoming (and super retro) Fuji FinePix X100
    comes the closest—but the lens is not interchangeable.
  • I wish Panasonic would get rid of that italic “L” gold badge on the front face of the camera. I’m picky.

CONCLUSION:

This camera has nearly replaced my Canon 5D and this has all to do with size. Nearly every photo
here in this album (in 2011) was made with the GF1. For my uses I have more megapixels than I require,
and I’ve never been left wanting for any particular feature.

Quite simply, I like to have a camera handy and this one fits in my jacket pocket.
(Cargo pants pockets would also work. Jeans? Notsomuch, and my hips don’t work with fannypacks.)

I still prefer the 5D for studio work, video and wide shots. The latter would be solved by getting another lens.
But for manual controls? I prefer the dual dial setup that Canon employs. (Also, this post was taken with the 5D.)

LINKS & ALTERNATIVES:

Folks have written in saying that prices for the old GF1 are getting steeper and steeper.
I should mention, this camera is not magic. None are, unless you use them.
With that in mind, I’ve thought about some alternatives.

My list of point-and-shoot cameras that will produce excellent results:

Questions or recommendations? Contact me or leave a comment on this journal post where I talk
about the processing techniques I use on the photos ’round here.